When the clipping was done, Crook smeared some stuff on a towel and wrapped it round Desmond's head.
"That'll brighten your hair up a lot, sir. Now for a crepe beard just to try the effect. We've got to deliver you at Cannon Street ready for the job, Mr. Matthews and me, but you won't want to worry with this nasty messy beard once you get indoors. You can grow your own beard, and I'll pop in and henna it a bit for you every now and then."
There was the smart of spirit gum on Desmond's cheeks and Crook gently applied a strip of tow to his face. He had taken the mirror away so that Desmond could no longer see the effect of the gradual metamorphosis.
"A mirror only confuses me," said the expert, breathing hard as he delicately adjusted the false beard, "I've got this picture firm in my head, and I want to get it transferred to your face. Somehow a mirror puts me right off. It's the reality I want."
As he grew more absorbed in his work, he ceased to speak altogether. He finished the beard, trimmed the eyebrows, applied a dash of henna with a brush, leaning backwards continually to survey the effect. He sketched in a wrinkle or two round the eyes with a pencil, wiped them out, then put them in again. Then he fumbled in his tin box, and produced two thin slices of grey rubber.
"Sorry," he said, "I'm afraid you'll have to wear these inside your cheeks to give the effect of roundness. You've got an oval face and the other man has a round one. I can get the fullness of the throat by giving you a very low collar, rather open and a size too large for you."
Desmond obediently slipped the two slices of rubber into his mouth and tucked them away on either side of his upper row of teeth. They were not particularly uncomfortable to wear.
"There's your specs," said Crook, handing him a spectacle case, "and there's the collar. Now if you'll put on the rest of the duds, we'll have a look at you, sir."